Partnership is an institution in which Immanuel Congregational Church has long had a part, growing out of an interest in reconciling opposite sides after WWII . Churches in Purley in England, Dessau in Germany, Speyer in Germany, Ostrava in the Czech Republic, and Belfast in Northern Ireland have met together every three years to study a variety of topics, renew old friendships and make new ones, and just learn about each other’s cultures by living and playing together.
In 2011 over 40 members and friends of Immanuel read and discussed Half the Sky, a book by Nicholas Kristof and Shery WuDunn, describing the oppression of women in the world today, along with many concrete ideas for how to turn the oppression into opportunities. The Half the Sky Group were inspired and decided to devote their energies to two projects, one in India and the other in Hartford.
More than 65 years ago, Dan West herded 17 heifers onto a boat in Mobile, Alabama, and shipped them to Puerto Rico, where they were given to families whose children had never before tasted milk. This was the beginning of Heifer International, a relief organization that from the beginning has been about giving the world’s rural poor what is necessary for them to support themselves rather than making them dependent upon short-term relief.
Heifer International gives poor rural families in the developing world pigs, goats, geese, donkeys, water buffaloes, chickens, rabbits, and beehives, all with the requirement that the first offspring of these animals be donated to neighbors. Over the past 10 years, members of Immanuel have raised over $40,000 for Heifer International to assist families around the world in their efforts to become self-reliant.
In 2013, Immanuel stepped up its support for Heifer International. We committed $10,000 to a project for women in Cambodia that provides pigs, poultry and fish to a total of 700 families in four communities in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, and Battambang provinces. Thirty-two self-help groups (SHGs), comprised entirely of women, were formed in the targeted communities. Heifer staff trained the women in leadership, finance and accounting systems, improved animal management, gender and domestic violence, home gardening and organic farming and advocacy.
Additionally, 1,056 women project participants received Literacy Education over the course of the project, which also aimed to train 80 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) in Cambodia, with women accounting for at least 50 of those selected. Along with livestock, each family received agricultural support such as forage seeds, saplings and vegetable seeds for
Each year, we visit a Heifer Farm to see the animals and learn more about the Heifer Project.
For more information and to volunteer to help, contact Immanuel staff member Tracy Gormley. For more information on Heifer Project, visit www.heifer.org
Through the United Church of Christ/ CT Conference, Immanuel supports Our Church’s Wider Mission.